Brandon Copeland is now an NFL veteran.
After signing with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent last year, the Sykesville native spent the beginning part of last season on the Ravens' practice squad before finishing the year on the Tennessee Titans' practice squad.
Now, he's working to take the next step.
He didn't play in any games as a rookie and wasn't on an active roster at all during the regular season. This year, he wants to play in that first NFL game. He wants to be part of an active roster. And he's in the mix with the Titans for a roster spot at outside linebacker.
The Titans wrapped up the final of its four organized team activities Thursday. They also had a voluntary minicamp earlier this offseason that Copeland took part in. He has also been around Tennessee's facility working out when he isn't home in Maryland training with Eldersburg-based trainer Troy Jones.
"Everything's been going well so far," Copeland said.
Copeland played defensive line in both high school at Gilman and in college at Penn, but he has made the transition to linebacker in the NFL.
He worked at inside linebacker with both the Ravens and Titans last year, but he is playing outside linebacker this year in the 3-4 defense run by new Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt, which he feels like is a good fit for him.
"It's closer to the defensive lineman home I've been at my entire life," Copeland said. "It's also good for me to be able to rush the quarterback again. And in the run game, I feel like I'm very strong in it, especially when we get on those pads and stuff. And also, the year at inside has helped me coverage-wise tremendously."
The Titans have four veteran outside linebackers that are probably locks to make the roster — Akeem Ayers, Shaun Phillips, Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley — but Copeland is competing for a backup job behind those players.
"We definitely have some depth at the position, but I've got a lot of good veterans that allow me to keep learning from them and also have room for myself to grow as a player and compete with them as well," Copeland said.
Copeland measured in at 6-foot-2, 260 pounds coming out of college, but he dropped down to 250 pounds last year to put himself in a better position to be successful at linebacker. He is still 250, but he says he is a better 250 than he was last year.
Copeland has always been strong. He did 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at a regional combine last year. He also tested out well athletically.
But he wanted to trim down even more going into this season, which he feels like he did.
"I've changed my body up," Copeland said. "I've changed my eating habits. Last year, coming from D-line to linebacker, I had to lose weight and lose it fast. But having a year and especially a couple months of this offseason to take the time and focus on the little things and the eating right, I've really been able to keep my body in a lot better shape and really lean out in a way that I can be proud of and I can be happy with."
The hope is that that helps lead to a roster spot with the Titans.
It's still early and training and the summer will go a long way in determining whether he does end up making it, but Copeland said the feedback to this point has been positive.
"I've been getting better every day, and the coaches like what I've been doing," Copeland said. "And all you can do is take it one day at a time."